Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Cornell students making oil sands toxin sensor

Picture of the floating biosensor, stolen from the
article.
Cornell University Genetically Engineered Machines is a group of students from the New York university working on a sensor that detects things like napthalene and arsenic, funded by the Oil Sands Leadership Initiative. I didn't know arsenic was a concern for the industry, but on further investigation, at least some people think it is.

Anyway, the actual sensor seems pretty neat. It uses a genetically modifed bacteria (S. oneidensis MR-1) that produces an electrical current when their "metal reduction pathway" is activated, as it is in the presence of napthalene or arsenic. It's supposedly better than other "biosensors" because the results isn't through fluorescence which is difficult to read continuously and autonomously. Or something, I'm probably botching the description, so read the article if you're into accuracy.

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